Fresh off a plane from New York and her program last night at MoMA, filmmaker Amie Siegel screens and discusses her film essay DDR/DDR (2008, 135 mins.) tonight at CalArts’ Bijou Theater. In this work, Siegel captures contemporary life in the former DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik [East Germany]).
Born in Chicago in 1974, Siegel graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Bard College and is currently a professor in Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. On her website, she describes DDR/DDR as one of several “ciné-constellations” that examines themes of voyeurism, psychoanalysis, memory, surveillance and modernist architecture…”
The film was featured at the 2008 Whitney Biennial and collects mundane Stasi surveillance footage, interviews with psychoanalysts, East German “Indian hobbyists” and shots of derelict state radio stations. Jason Edward Kaufman, chief U.S. Correspondent to The Art Newspaper of London, writes of the film:
Like Empathy, the film [DDR/DDR] is a mosaic of interviews and incidents that gradually connect, allowing issues of history, state control, personal identity, and memory to emerge. A man walking across streets and fields as if on a tightrope is a recurring motif—an apt metaphor for the East-West divide. The camera moves through derelict East German buildings and records a man throwing Stasi-style electronic equipment from a moving truck; East German emulators of American Indian culture explain that their hobby began as a clandestine cry for freedom from Soviet oppression. The sociocultural theme is complicated, however, by a former East German mother who reminisces about her family’s more comfortable life before reunification. The ruminating psychological and intellectual content of Siegel’s works posits that everything is subject to shifting interpretation.
Amie Siegel screens DDR/DDR
Structuring Strategies Program
CalArts’ Bijou Theater
Tuesday, April 20 at 7 pm